British sprint star Mark Cavendish has been forced to delay the start of his 2010 racing campaign due to an on-going tooth problem.

The Manxman has been suffering from a tooth abscess for several weeks, and the infection flared up during his HTC-Columbia team’s recent training camp on Mallorca, forcing Cavendish to miss a vital few days’ riding.

Cavendish was set to debut at the Tour of Qatar over Febrary 7-12, but will now focus on reaching condition for the Ruta del Sol in Spain, starting on Feburary 21.

“We want to take all precautions and ensure that Mark has fully recovered and is able to get in some extra base training for the long season ahead of him,” said HTC-Columbia Team Manager Rolf Aldag.

“His season goals remain the same and he is looking forward to performing as planned in major Spring races like Milan-San Remo and Flanders before his focus shifts toward the stage racing.”

Cavendish’s HTC-Columbia team-mate Andre Greipel is currently obliterating his sprint rivals at the Tour Down Under in Australia. The German has won three out of the four stages completed so far, and currently leads the race.

In the 2009 season, Cavendish and Greipel were first and second in the list of pro riders with the most victories, helping to give HTC-Columbia the most wins of any ProTour team last year.

Cavendish will be aiming to win the coveted green jersey at this year’s Tour de France in July.

Related links

Mark Cavendish: Rider Profile